Patent: Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 with apodization filter

koenkooi

EOS RP
Feb 25, 2015
289
142

Normalnorm

EOS 7D MK II
Dec 25, 2012
488
94
The problem is that getting that sharpness is straightforward, but results in huge monster lenses. Heck, a 1.4 as sharp as the RF 50/1.2 is going to be nearly the size of the RF 50/1.2.

I'd rather a seriously premium implementation of a modest "double-Gauss" formula, like the Leica M-series' 50/1.4 or even 2.0.
Actually, I bought the older pre-art Sigma that was only slightly larger than the Canon. Yet it was sharper and actually focused (noisily).
It is as sharp as I need.
I also think an f2 50 could be small and sharp.
 
Reactions: SwissFrank

scottburgess

Canonical Canon
Jun 20, 2013
213
0
I'm not happy with the 50mm f/1.4's image quality, specifically

1. It's not that sharp. E.g. on 21mp sensors @ f/2, it isn't as sharp as the 35mm f/2 IS USM. At f/2.8 it isn't as sharp as the 40mm f/2.8.
I have to agree with this, too. I'm considering dumping mine without a lens to replace it, and also considering renting the Sigma Art alternative (all my lenses are Canon). This lens is the biggest weakness in my landscape tools. An EF 50mm f/1.4 with the same optical formula isn't likely to do it for me, even with improved optical coatings. The current lens is unacceptable in the mid-frame until f/2.8, and then it is just okay. Why bother making an f/1.4 lens that isn't solid at wide apertures? Sure, the viewfinder is bright, but a bright viewfinder does not an image make.

What Canon gets right, I think, with this patent is the apodization filter as a value-added feature. It gives me a reason to potentially select this over a similar lens with no special features. Not exciting (since a filter is a reasonable alternative), but fresh. It would encourage me to take a close look because I like photoimpressionism.

Canon may be redesigning this lens more to eliminate popular lenses which still are manufactured manually rather than on their new automated lines. Laudable for the stockholders sake, if true, but perhaps missing an opportunity.

I'd chuck the old (double-Gauss?) design and build a modern lens to incorporate this. Leave the 50mm f/1.4 around as a budget choice, build an L version along the lines of the 35mm f/1.4 II as the step-up option. Or even better, make a big splash with a new design for the 50mm f/1.2L with apodization. Cripes, the length of the lens described is larger than the f/1.2 anyway.

My advice to Canon would be to make a fifty that is a "wow" lens, damn the size and cost, and offer something besides autofocus that the Zeiss Otus 55mm lacks, whether that is apodization or something else. Canon has the capability of turning out a great lens in the $1500-2200 range, I believe. JUST DO IT.

Scott
 

stevelee

FT-QL
Jul 6, 2017
1,033
162
Davidson, NC
The 50mm f/1.4 did fine on my Rebel for the purposes that I got it. Now I have an 85mm f/1.8 for full frame, and haven't found any need for the 50 on that camera. I recognize the danger of extrapolating one's own needs and interests to the rest of the world. But my experience makes me wonder how widespread beyond forum members here that interest in a 50mm prime might be.
 

Don Haines

Beware of cats with laser eyes!
Jun 4, 2012
7,947
1,334
Canada
The 50mm f/1.4 did fine on my Rebel for the purposes that I got it. Now I have an 85mm f/1.8 for full frame, and haven't found any need for the 50 on that camera. I recognize the danger of extrapolating one's own needs and interests to the rest of the world. But my experience makes me wonder how widespread beyond forum members here that interest in a 50mm prime might be.
As an old fart who has been shooting since the time of the dinosaurs, I find this an interesting question.

Everybody (or at least most) used to say that 50mm was the perfect portrait lens.

Now many say 85mm

Many now say 135mm

Some even say 200mm


I think that 50mm demand is partly from tradition, but it is nice to see that we now accept much more variation.
 
Reactions: jtf

QuisUtDeus

EOS 80D
Feb 20, 2019
115
80
The 50mm f/1.4 did fine on my Rebel for the purposes that I got it. Now I have an 85mm f/1.8 for full frame, and haven't found any need for the 50 on that camera. I recognize the danger of extrapolating one's own needs and interests to the rest of the world. But my experience makes me wonder how widespread beyond forum members here that interest in a 50mm prime might be.
I used to be in the camp of really wanting Canon to make one and got a 50A. I used it a few times, then it sat on a shelf for a few years and I sold it. The 35/2IS is just better for me.
 

flip314

EOS 80D
Sep 26, 2018
141
158
As an old fart who has been shooting since the time of the dinosaurs, I find this an interesting question.

Everybody (or at least most) used to say that 50mm was the perfect portrait lens.

Now many say 85mm

Many now say 135mm

Some even say 200mm


I think that 50mm demand is partly from tradition, but it is nice to see that we now accept much more variation.
These days, I break out my 1200mm f5.6 for portraits.
 

koenkooi

EOS RP
Feb 25, 2015
289
142
The 50mm f/1.4 did fine on my Rebel for the purposes that I got it. Now I have an 85mm f/1.8 for full frame, and haven't found any need for the 50 on that camera. I recognize the danger of extrapolating one's own needs and interests to the rest of the world. But my experience makes me wonder how widespread beyond forum members here that interest in a 50mm prime might be.
Similar story here, I had the 50mm f/1.8 (both the old and the new version) for my 7D and M, but the EF-M 32mm has replaced it for the M and thanks to the eye-AF in the RP the 85mm f/1.8 is on that camera most of the time.
I did rent the RF 50mm f/1.2, the AF on that is much, much faster than on the other lenses. By the time I have enough toy budget saved up to buy the RF 50 the RF 85mm f/1.2 will probably be out and I'll have to choose between the 50, 85 and 85 ds :)
 
Reactions: SwissFrank

uri.raz

EOS 80D
Jan 5, 2016
113
57
As an old fart who has been shooting since the time of the dinosaurs, I find this an interesting question.

Everybody (or at least most) used to say that 50mm was the perfect portrait lens.

Now many say 85mm

Many now say 135mm

Some even say 200mm


I think that 50mm demand is partly from tradition, but it is nice to see that we now accept much more variation.
My photography teacher said (about shooting portraits en face), in a nicer way, that the more prominent the customer's nose is, the longer the lens he would use, even 300mm.

I don't shoot portraits for a living, I would be happy to use a 70-200mm f/2.8 for those. I want fast primes for low light, so I could use lower ISO.
 
Aug 22, 2010
1,582
284
48
Uk
www.GMCPhotographics.co.uk
I find the Canon 50mm lenses an oddity. They just aren't sharp wide open. I've had multiple copies of the 50 f1.2L and multiple 50 f1.4 lenses..and the one I've settled on is the old metal mount 50mm f1.8 from the 80's. It seems that Canon are unwilling or incapable of designing a 50mm that is as sharp as it's other L lenses. The 50mm f1.4 is built like a toy...and it's soft wide open...it has this weird dreamy low contrast effect wide open that I don't care for either. The 50L is a great lens except it's AF is pretty inconsistent and slow in low light and again it's soft wide open. If Canon can design and make stellar lenses like the 35mm f1.4L and the 85mm f1.2L lenses...then a 50mm should be a far more straight forwards design prospect. I suspect that Canon haven't given the lens team a very big budget to design a good 50mm and as a result we've ended up with the crappy half hearted attempts so far. Even a 24-70 f2.8 L is better than any of these primes at f2.8 and that zoom is wide open.
Sure, the RF 50L is an amazing lens...but it's pretty obvious that Canon have been holding back this design / R&D budget for the RF mount. It's over sized and vastly over priced. There is nothing in a 50mm lens that needs the shorter mount...lenses under 38mm need a retro focus design on an SLR. So a 50mm shouldn't have any mirror less benefits vs SLR mounting. If anything...it's likely to be an SLR design with a 20mm flange on the back to make up the lack of a mirror box. Even Sigma seems to be able to design and build a better 50mm f1.4 lens in their ART range...although the usual Sigma focus accuracy seems to cripple it.
Looking at this lens block diagram...to me it looks like a variation on the existing 50mm f1.4 Gaussian optics but with an added apodisation coating. The patent here looks like the addition of the coating on the current 50mm rather than a patent for an entirely new lens...which is also disappointing.
 
Reactions: SwissFrank

BillB

EOS 6D MK II
May 11, 2017
977
199
The 50mm f/1.4 did fine on my Rebel for the purposes that I got it. Now I have an 85mm f/1.8 for full frame, and haven't found any need for the 50 on that camera. I recognize the danger of extrapolating one's own needs and interests to the rest of the world. But my experience makes me wonder how widespread beyond forum members here that interest in a 50mm prime might be.
Yep. The market for less expensive primes shrank with the availability of good zooms, and that was a while ago.
 

Kit.

EOS 6D MK II
Apr 25, 2011
988
455
As an old fart who has been shooting since the time of the dinosaurs, I find this an interesting question.

Everybody (or at least most) used to say that 50mm was the perfect portrait lens.
It was a cheap lightweight lens suitable to shooting both environmental portraits and studio portraits.
 

SwissFrank

EOS RP
Dec 9, 2018
273
105
it's pretty obvious that Canon have been holding back this design / R&D budget for the RF mount. It's over sized and vastly over priced. There is nothing in a 50mm lens that needs the shorter mount...lenses under 38mm need a retro focus design on an SLR. So a 50mm shouldn't have any mirror less benefits vs SLR mounting
It's only competition in sharpness is the Otus 55m and the Leica APO-Sumicron, both FAR more expensive. (I haven't found any lens test agency that compares all three, but it's easy to find tests of any one of them proclaiming it the sharpest normal lens they know.) And beating them by 1/3 and 1 1/3 stop respectively, as well as having a bit fast AF :-D

I don't think your "38mm" rule of thumb is accurate. I think a pinhole lens has to be the focal length away from the film/sensor, but that means a 44mm pinhole is the widest you could shoot on an EF body. Once you start throwing lenses in, I think single lenses and cemented doublets have to be pretty close to that, but more complicated formulae are anyone's guess. Back with manually-designed lenses a human indeed would put a specific retrofocus group on the end of a design, but I suppose nowadays the retrofocus feature is spread throughout the lens.

Looking at my RF50, the rear element is actually jutting 1-2mm PAST the mount surface, into the camera. That means 18mm from the sensor.
 

SwissFrank

EOS RP
Dec 9, 2018
273
105
I find the Canon 50mm lenses an oddity.
I'm puzzled by this too. The 50/1.8 has been literally the same glass since 1987. I had the MkI, pro-quality one. It and the 50/1.4 never were sharp, just the obvious combination of portable and low-light. I also had the 50/1.2 and again, just not sharp.

These (and the 1.0, also not sharp) are all double-Gauss designs. Then the RF50 and Otus 55 are utterly different, with no underlying design concept I can name by looking at it.

So I was thinking that perhaps improving substantially on the double-Gauss designs would make the lens so big that you lose it's portability aspect. (The RF50 is almost the exact size of the RF24-105/4IS), and so they stuck with portability.

However, Leica 50s have been quite sharp, and the APO-Summicron high-buck 50/2 is mentioned as the world's sharpest lens (along with the RF50 and the Otus 55) despite being a double-Gauss.

I may not represent enough buyers to make it worth producing, but I'd be happy to pay twice as much for a 50/1.4 or 50/1.8 that is a lot sharper but no bigger. That said, the Leice 35/1.4ASPH works fine on my R and I may just get another Leica lens for a portable 50mm solution.
 

Hector1970

EOS 6D MK II
Mar 22, 2012
1,049
220
I'm puzzled by this too. The 50/1.8 has been literally the same glass since 1987. I had the MkI, pro-quality one. It and the 50/1.4 never were sharp, just the obvious combination of portable and low-light. I also had the 50/1.2 and again, just not sharp.

These (and the 1.0, also not sharp) are all double-Gauss designs. Then the RF50 and Otus 55 are utterly different, with no underlying design concept I can name by looking at it.

So I was thinking that perhaps improving substantially on the double-Gauss designs would make the lens so big that you lose it's portability aspect. (The RF50 is almost the exact size of the RF24-105/4IS), and so they stuck with portability.

However, Leica 50s have been quite sharp, and the APO-Summicron high-buck 50/2 is mentioned as the world's sharpest lens (along with the RF50 and the Otus 55) despite being a double-Gauss.

I may not represent enough buyers to make it worth producing, but I'd be happy to pay twice as much for a 50/1.4 or 50/1.8 that is a lot sharper but no bigger. That said, the Leice 35/1.4ASPH works fine on my R and I may just get another Leica lens for a portable 50mm solution.
I had the nifty fifty 1.8 and for a cheap lens it was sharp.
I had the 50 1.4 which wasn't sharp wide open but produced attractive photos
I still have the 50 1.2 - I do find this sharp.
I haven't been as unhappy as others on the 50mm choices.
The RF 50mm does sound interesting.
 
Aug 22, 2010
1,582
284
48
Uk
www.GMCPhotographics.co.uk
I don't think your "38mm" rule of thumb is accurate. I think a pinhole lens has to be the focal length away from the film/sensor, but that means a 44mm pinhole is the widest you could shoot on an EF body. Once you start throwing lenses in, I think single lenses and cemented doublets have to be pretty close to that, but more complicated formulae are anyone's guess. Back with manually-designed lenses a human indeed would put a specific retrofocus group on the end of a design, but I suppose nowadays the retrofocus feature is spread throughout the lens.

Looking at my RF50, the rear element is actually jutting 1-2mm PAST the mount surface, into the camera. That means 18mm from the sensor.
http://www.coinimaging.com/retrofocus.html and example of an old website that pre-dates the mirrorless spin. a 50mm lens doesn't require retro focus design to make the focal length work on a n SLR with a 38mm mirror box assembly.

The rear element of the RF 50 is fairly irrelevant in this discussion. There is no specific design requiement for the rear element to be that close to the sensor plane. But that doesn't stop Canon from designing this lens that way anyhow. This basic design could easily have been adapted to either an SLR format or RF format with a change of a few rear elements to dial in the ubiquitous mirror box distance requirement.

But my argument still stands, If Canon can make a sharp 35mm f1.4 lens or a 24mm f1.4 lens which are both retro focus..then why not a sharp ef 50mm f1.2 or f1.4 lens? They seem to be able to make a sharp 85mm f1.2 and f1.4 lens and that's not much longer in focal length. The 85mm f1.2 kind of proves that a double Gaussian optic can be very sharp.
 

SwissFrank

EOS RP
Dec 9, 2018
273
105
a 50mm lens doesn't require retro focus design to make the focal length work on a n SLR with a 38mm mirror box assembly
Maybe not a double-Gauss, but maybe others do.


There is no specific design requiement for the rear element to be that close to the sensor plane.
What's your evidence for that?


This basic design could easily have been adapted to either an SLR format or RF format with a change of a few rear elements to dial in the ubiquitous mirror box distance requirement.
What's your evidence for that?


If Canon can make a sharp 35mm f1.4 lens or a 24mm f1.4 lens which are both retro focus..then why not a sharp ef 50mm f1.2 or f1.4 lens?
Sharp is relative, and not the only criteria in lens design. Perhaps the Canon 35/1.4 MkII could have been yet sharper were it not retrofocus, or higher contrast, or smaller, or cheaper, or all four simultaneously?

Take the Otus 55mm/1.4 as an example. Ultra-sharp even on an SLR. But it's not as sharp, it seems, as the RF50/1.2, despite costing 2x more, lacking AF, and giving up a third of a stop to the mirrorless design.

The 85mm f1.2 kind of proves that a double Gaussian optic can be very sharp.
You mean the 85mm f/1.2 L? I owned one 20 years (I sold it to beat the price drop I forecast when the RF comes out) and it didn't seem that sharp in the corners.

The example you're looking for is the Leica APO-Summicron 50/2, which gives up 1 1/3 stops and autofocus to the RF and costs 4x more, but at least is sharp as heck and a double-Gauss. Albeit also a mirrorless, but even though there was no length constraint, the rear elements are again closer to the sensor/film than an SLR would allow. So while you're right about there being a sharp double-Gauss, it suggests that you're wrong that a double-Gauss 50mm's that allow for an SLR mirror are uncompromised.
 

SwissFrank

EOS RP
Dec 9, 2018
273
105
I had the nifty fifty 1.8 and for a cheap lens it was sharp.
I had the 50 1.4 which wasn't sharp wide open but produced attractive photos
I still have the 50 1.2 - I do find this sharp.
I was shooting regularly with the 50/1.8 MkI (the 1987 pro model), the 50/1.4, and the 50/1.2 in January, and have moved to the RF.

The 50/1.8 seemed good in the 90s, but by 2010 it no longer seemed as good. Sensors got good enough to reveal shortcomings, and other lenses improved. The 1.4 seemed not too different from the 1.4, except better aperture diaphragm. The 1.2 also didn't seem like a big step up.

The RF 50/1.2 makes the EF 50/1.2 look like a bad joke. On the other hand the EF's size makes a mockery of the giant RF.
 

jolyonralph

Kodak Brownie
Aug 25, 2015
1,075
275
49
London, UK
www.everyothershot.com
I don't think many people (even that one) were unhappy with the image quality of the old 50/1.4; it was the fragile micro-USM that could be damaged by bumping the extending front element. If this has ring- or nano-USM it would address that, at least. But doesn't the apodization filter heavily reduce the light transmission, making it less suitable for general use?
Add me to the list of those who didn't like the old 50/1.4 In general the 50/1.8 STM is a far better lens at less than half the price.